The Town That Billy Sunday Couldn’t Shut Down

Expedition 30 photo of Chicago on the night of Feb. 2, 2012. (NASA)

Here’s a view from the ISS, looking down at the brightly-lit Chicago metropolitan area on February 2, 2012. Lake Michigan is the dark expanse seen below the clouds — perhaps a dense fog bank — at bottom center.

According to NASA, fog is not common in the Great Lakes area this time of the year as it’s usually too windy (the “Windy City”!) but this has been an exceptionally mild winter. The faint gold line of airglow — caused by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun exciting gas molecules in the upper atmosphere — can be seen just above the horizon. Minor auroral activity is visible in upper right.

And since we’re here, heres some fun facts about Chicago: 

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837.

The first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Today, Navy Pier is home to a 15-story Ferris wheel, modeled after the original one.

The Lincoln Park Zoo, one of only three major free zoos in the country, is the country’s oldest public zoo with an estimated annual attendance of three million.

The world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Company, was built in Chicago in 1885.

The Chicago area is is the 22nd largest metropolitan area in the world.

The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 110 stories high (but a bit shy of the ISS, which flies over at 240 miles high!)

Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, grew up in Chicago. She went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Image credit: NASA. Facts via